Patrick Bush, Director of Technology Resources, Delaware Department of Education

An interesting dichotomy happens in the summer. The school hallways throughout our state are empty of students but their success continues to be at the forefront of our minds and work. As we feverishly prepare for the next school year, I like to use this critical time to reflect on the big picture. This year as in years past I continue to ask myself if the software and data systems we provide educators are really having a significant impact on the achievement of our students.  I think the answer here is a clear “Yes” although there is always room for improvement as we continue on a journey of meaningful data that supports instruction.

The Delaware EdInsights Dashboard, based on Ed-Fi technology, is an embedded tool for our educators and we continue to see growth and expansion of its use each year.  Sometimes though, it is easy to take for granted that these capabilities didn’t exist just a few years ago. In some ways I believe the tool would not exist in its current form today if it were not for the Ed-Fi Alliance, our collaborative work between states, and the dedication of folks all across the country to building dashboards, metrics, standards, and leveraging technology in a way that truly changes outcomes.

The tool is now used by more than 7,000 educators and administrators in Delaware. I think this is a sign of the value continuously derived for teachers – providing insight and impacting the success of our students through the effective use of data. Here are some of the reasons our educators and administrators have embraced the dashboard.

Created by Educators, for Educators

From the beginning, Delaware placed a high priority on reaching out to educators statewide for detailed input. We did that with extensive focus groups gathering literally hundreds of requirements.  We are still using those requirements to drive development and actively seeking input from our user community.  We even have a dedicated representative who regularly brings educator input back to the technical team. As a result, educators see new function, benefits, and applicability to their work with every software release.

Community Support

The entire community was aligned with the goal of reaching all districts with programs designed to improve struggling schools and increase student achievement. Educators, education experts, parents, as well as leaders of teachers’ unions, nonprofits, corporations and civic groups, worked together to create a strategic plan that provided the foundation for the state’s winning application for a Race to the Top grant.

Helping Students

I frequently get comments about the change this is driving for educators as well as students and parents.

“The EdInsight Dashboard pulls information from multiple databases and arranges it into a user-friendly, customizable platform. This is giving our teachers, counselors, and administrators easy and quick access to the information needed every day to help students and improve instruction.”

– Mary An Scarbrough, Supervisor of Student & Staff Services for the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District

Peer Network – Ed-Fi Alliance

We started this project by leveraging work that had already been done in Texas and we continue to benefit from continuous improvements made by other states as well as Delaware specific development work. The collaborative nature of this toolset allows wide dispersal of the technology, parallel development for states, and speed to market for our students.  This was a huge project for our department.  To have gone from inception to delivery in eighteen months is a testament to the Ed-Fi approach to leveraged, collaborative development and metrics.

We’ve also been contacted by many new states licensing the technology whose needs are addressed by the Education Insights dashboard. Some need advice, some need support, and some simply wish to leverage our experience.  Whatever the need, we are thrilled to be able to give back to the community, extend this important work, and build the Ed-Fi dashboard into the fabric of operations within member states.   We are all working on something critically important that impacts the success of students in every state we reach.  It is a very powerful platform indeed.

The power to provide actionable information and put it in the hands of those closest to molding our youth on a daily basis is at the core of data driven education reform. Realizing this vision using the Delaware EdInsight dashboard and Ed-Fi technology is a primary measure of our success and I am proud to be a part of the team that made this vision a reality.

Guest Blogger: Patrick Bush, Director of Technology Resources, Delaware Department of Education

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